The members of the quartet the Canadian Tenors are eager to distance themselves from the term "popera," and prefer to call what they do crossover, but in fact, their sound and repertoire are not that far from groups associated with popera, like Il Divo. The Canadian Tenors don't sing opera; their first Decca release is made up of arrangements of pop and folk classics, and includes only one classical piece, a version of Albinoni's Adagio, with words by Lara Fabian and Remo Giazotto. Three of the members, Fraser Walters (a former member of Chanticleer), Victor Micallef, and Remigio Pereira, have backgrounds in classical training, and it serves them well in singing with full, warm, expansive tone. The group's newest member, Clifton Murray, comes from the gospel tradition, and while he blends well with the others, the lightness of his tone provides a nice contrast, especially in solo passages. There is a special appeal in the sound of the four men's voices in close harmony, particularly since their emphasis is on the ensemble, and not a competition in virtuosity to see who can sing the highest and loudest.
The group's sound is characterized by big, richly orchestrated arrangements, augmented by back-up vocals, exotic instrumental effects, and a driving rock beat. Credited to a variety of arrangers, the instrumentals are exceptionally well-crafted, with plenty of color and emotional punch, and they are performed well, most of them by the Moscow Film Orchestra. The Canadian Tenors are credited with most of the vocal arrangements, which skillfully exploit the strengths of the group and give the individuals opportunities to shine in solos. If there's any fault with the album, it's in the similarity of the effect of so many of the tracks: throbbing, soulful ballads, which, taken together, can feel romantically overheated and relentlessly intense. Each individual song, though, is completely effective in its own terms; there are no weak links. Standout tracks include a passionate and emotionally complex account of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, and The Prayer by Carol Bayer Sager and David Foster, which features an especially effective interplay of the voices. The album is beautifully engineered, with vivid, creatively balanced sound.